Nina Zilli

Sempre Lontano

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Sempre Lontano, the full-length album debut by soul-pop singer Nina Zilli, includes all eight of the songs from her debut EP, Nina Zilli (2009), plus four new ones. While Zilli's debut EP wasn't a big hit, it trumpeted the emergence of a feel-good soul-pop singer with a retro style that harks back to the '60s, drawing from Motown-style R&B and Phil Spector-style pop as well as ska reggae. Granted, ever since Amy Winehouse struck gold with Back to Black (2006), there has been no shortage of retro soul-pop singers in Europe, but Zilli does it better than most. It helps that she puts her influences up front for all to see. "L'Amore Verrà" is a spirited Italian-language cover of the Supremes' 1966 classic "You Can't Hurry Love," for instance, while "Come Il Sole" appropriates the opening beat from the Ronettes' 1963 perennial "Be My Baby." It helps also that each of her songs has its own unique characteristics. Her debut single, "50mila," includes harmony vocals by Giuliano Palma of the like-minded cover band Giuliano Palma & the Bluebeaters. Another of the highlights from her debut EP, "L'Inferno" is decked out in sha-la-la backup vocals and a great horn arrangement. As for the four new songs exclusive to Sempre Lontano, far and away the best is "L'Uomo Che Amava le Donne," an orchestrated pop number that is quite different in style from anything from her debut EP. The other three new songs are good if not truly great, which makes Sempre Lontano a questionable purchase for anyone who already has Zilli's debut EP in their collection.

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